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The PROMISE Program Case Examples: From Get Tough to Solution Building

Joan E. Collins-Ricketts, Anne Rambo


Building on the evidence-based solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) approach, an innovative university and school district partnership has generated alternatives to suspension and arrests of at-risk youth. Previous policies emphasized a get-tough, zero-tolerance approach. The results of these policies were discouraging and especially detrimental to minority youth. Using university-based marriage and family therapy therapist interns trained in solution-focused techniques, the PROMISE program focuses on strengths and successes. Implemented in a large urban school district in the United States, the initial statistics show that the program has been more effective than the previous program utilizing get-tough policies. In the 2013–2014 academic year, the overall recidivism rate of suspended students decreased dramatically compared to the previous year. The percentage of students suspended within the same school year dropped from 50% in 2012–2013 academic year to 8% in the 2013–2014 academic year, with the PROMISE program in place. In this article we briefly describe the changes in school district policy and overall handling of at-risk youth and present three case examples to illustrate the SFBT part of the inter-vention. The success of the program illustrates the usefulness of solution-focused approaches, both with individual clients (the students) and with organizations (the entire school district).


PROMISE; solution-focused brief therapy; at-risk students; suspensions


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DOI: 10.14335/ijsfp.v3i2.26

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